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Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Run on Batman Incorporated – Demon Star & Gotham’s Most Wanted (Review/Retrospective)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Between September 2006 and July 2013, Grant Morrison crafted his epic Batman saga from the ashes of Infinite Crisis. Over the course of seven years, the Scottish author re-worked and re-imagined the Caped Crusader, boldly trying to condense the character’s convoluted and sprawling history into a single narrative. Morrison pulled elements from across the character’s continuity – including stories believed wiped out by continuity reboots and existing as alternatives or “what-ifs.”

To describe Grant Morrison’s Batman epic as ambitious doesn’t begin to do it justice. It is a story that pushed the character out of what had been his comfort zone since the eighties and nineties. He made Bruce Wayne a father; he killed Bruce Wayne off; he banished Batman to the dawn of time and forced him to fight his way back to the present; he made Dick Grayson into Batman; he turned Batman into a franchise so that it might fight twenty-first century crime.

Beware the Batman...

Beware the Batman…

These are all seismic shifts to the status quo, and don’t necessarily conform to what people think about when they imagine a typical Batman story. The character of Bruce Wayne and his world changed dramatically. The very first issue of Morrison’s Batman run featured Batman capturing the last of his classic villains, allowing the Caped Crusader a change to face larger and more existential threats.

It is quite telling that Morrison’s storytelling became the driving force of Batman continuity, with DC spinning books and stories off from his central premise. Scott Snyder’s first Batman epic was The Black Mirror, a story featuring Dick Grayson as Batman, as part of Morrison’s status quo. When the company relaunched Batman & Robin as part of the “new 52”, it featured Damian Wayne as Robin, another innovation introduced by Morrison.

It's all connected...

It’s all connected…

Despite this sense that everything was changing, it seemed inevitable that everything would inevitably be reset. You can only change an iconic character like Batman so much, after all. If you bend Batman too far out of shape, he must inevitably snap back into his classic mould. It’s not inherently a bad thing – “Batman and Robin will never die!” to quote Batman R.I.P., and the characters endure because they revert to archetypes – but it does lend a sense of tragedy to everything.

Coming in the wake of the “new 52” reboot that represented an attempt to reset DC continuity back to its most archetypal configuration, it makes sense that Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham would write the second volume of Batman Incorporated as a tragedy. Morrison would announce his intention to step away from mainstream brand-name superhero stories in the wake of Batman Incorporated, and you can sense some of that fatigue in this story about how everything eventually gets set back to zero.

Everything falls apart...

Everything falls apart…

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Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason’s Run on Batman & Robin – Pearl & Death of the Family (Review)

23rd July is Batman Day, celebrating the character’s 75th anniversary. To celebrate, this July we’re taking a look at some new and classic Batman (and Batman related) stories. Check back daily for the latest review.

Peter Tomasi is one of the best supporting writers in comics. Writing a supporting title in a shared superhero universe is a very daunting task. It requires a unique ability to weave into (and out of) events and storylines dictated by more high-profile writers on more popular books. Due to the structuring of superhero publishing, the direction for an entirely line is typically dictated by one (or maybe two) books, with the rest of the line alternating between supporting those books and trying not to make waves.

Tomasi is very good at this. His Green Lantern Corps book provided a suitably solid support for Geoff Johns’ more high-profile Green Lantern comic. He was the logical choice to take over Batman & Robin after Grant Morrison departed, even if the book did cycle through a variety of creators including Paul Cornell and Judd Winick. Tomasi is a writer with a lot of experience as an editor, and – as such – has a knack for picking up on themes and core values of particular writers.

He shall become a bat...

He shall become a bat…

Following the “new 52” relaunch, Batman & Robin was very much a satellite book in DC’s Batman line. It was a holding pattern, a book designed to feature Damian Wayne while Grant Morrison prepared to launch into Batman Incorporated. It was part of a line that was largely being driven by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s work on Batman. There was no sense writer Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason would be doing anything particularly bold or daunting with the book at this moment in time.

Dutifully, following an eight-issue introductory arc, Born to Kill, Batman & Robin found itself bouncing around between various high-profile crossovers in the Batman line and in the wider context of DC’s publishing schedule. In the spate of issues between Born to Kill and the end of Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated run, Tomasi and Gleason find themselves navigating a veritable minefield of DC continuity and crossovers.

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

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Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleeson’s Run on Batman & Robin – Born to Kill (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

DC’s “new 52” was a fairly massive success. Hoping to re-energise their line, the company launched a massive retooling following their crossover Flashpoint. Some characters had their history radically reworked and altered – Morrison’s work on Action Comics standing as perhaps the most obvious example. However, some characters transitioned through the change with relative ease. Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern pretty much continued from where War of the Green Lanterns left off, and the entire Batman line was pretty much business as usual, save for the return of Bruce Wayne to the centre of the stage and Dick Grayson’s return to the role of Nightwing.

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason took over as the regular creative team on Batman & Robin, a book that had been launched by Grant Morrison only two or three years earlier. The book originally focused on the dynamic between Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin, so there’s a fairly fundamental shift in the tone of the book as Bruce Wayne is teamed up with his own son. While the set-up might seem to take a while to find its feet, there’s certainly no shortage of intriguing ideas here.

A Boy Wonder…

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Judd Winick’s Run on Batman & Robin – Streets Run Red (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the authors who followed Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Batman & Robin run. And, rounding off our day of reviews, is Judd Winick’s three-issue arc.

I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed at how DC editorial handled Batman & Robin after Morrison departed. In hindsight, it’s apparent that they were waiting until the high-profile post-Flashpoint DCnU to relaunch the title with its new creative team of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, but that still means there were ten issues between the end of Morrison’s run and the proper start of Tomasi and Gleason’s. While using fill-in writers and artists might have seemed logical, I can’t help but feel like there should have been tighter editorial control of the book.

While Paul Cornell and Tomasi both maintained some association with Morrison’s well-loved run, Judd Winick uses the title to tell a three-issue story arc that doesn’t necessarily fit. Instead, this three issue story-arc feels like it should have been a miniseries or featured in an anthology title, fitting more easily within the character continuity of Winick’s resurrected Jason Todd than within any framework of Batman & Robin.

All good for the Hood?

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Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason’s Run on Batman & Robin – Tree of Blood (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the authors who followed Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Batman & Robin run. And, in the middle, are Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.

It seems that Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason were originally intended to be the full-time creative team succeeding Grant Morrison on Batman & Robin, allegedly chosen by the Scotsman himself to take over the title. However, possibly due to the post-Flashpoint reboot, the series ended up bouncing around various authors and artists, including Judd Winick and Paul Cornell. However, Tomasi and Gleason did manage to contribute one three-issue storyline to the title before the relaunch, Tree of Blood. While it might not be the most conceptually fascinating Batman story, it does show that the team are well suited to the title, and serves as an appetizer for their current run.

Signal for action…

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Paul Cornell’s Run on Batman & Robin – The Sum of Her Parts (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the authors who followed Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking Batman & Robin run. We’ll start with Paul Cornell.

I’m going to be entirely honest here. I am very disappointed that Paul Cornell hasn’t really got a shot at an on-going Batman book. The author has been something of a rising star at DC comics for what seems like years, and recently provided the best Superman run in recent memory with his wonderful Lex Luthor story in Action Comics. He’s a writer who is astutely aware of the genre conventions, while being shrewd enough to exploit them to his advantage. He writes distinctly “comic book!” comic books, but without following the standard plot patterns just for the sake of adhering to formula. His three-issue Batman & Robin fill-in arc might not be his best work, or the best work on the title, but I do admire Cornell’s willingness to provide a compelling criticism of the Batman mythos instead of merely offering a generic paint-by-numbers treading-water adventure. Even if it doesn’t quite stick the landing, Cornell’s story is certainly ambitious.

Drilling it into them…

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Peter Tomasi’s Run on Batman & Robin – Blackest Night: Batman (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Okay, so it’s not technically a Batman & Robin book, only featuring Batman in the title, and it doesn’t feature Peter Tomasi’s Batman & Robin collaborator Patrick Gleason on the artwork. Still, Blackest Night: Batman feels very much like a trial run for the hand-picked successor to Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Batman & Robin run. (Arguably much like Blackest Night: Flash led into Geoff Johns’ second on-going Flash series.) While it’s hardly an exceptional three-issue tie-in to Geoff Johns’ massive Blackest Night event, it does show some hint of promise for the author’s forthcoming run on the main title.

Freeze, mofo!

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